[Resource] TF2 Theme Inspiration

Discussion in 'Tutorials & Resources' started by Vincent, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. Vincent

    aa Vincent 🔨 Grandmaster Lizard Wizard Jedi 🔨

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    A List of TF2 Themes
    For Your Inspiration

    Last Updated: August 28th, 2015

    Table of Contents
    • Before We Begin
      [*]Major Themes

      Farm, Badlands, Mountain, Forest, Jungle, Tropical, Urban, Maritime, Desert, Hydro, Swamp, Japan, Medieval, Space
      [*]Sub-Themes
      Industrial, Spytech, Construction, Mines, Caves, Snow, Rainstorm, Night, Abandoned, Ruins, Autumn, Halloween
    • Looking For More?

    Beginning Note: I've noticed that the only solid theme resource on this forum, (One I used years back), is now riddled with broken images, as well as being outdated. Hopefully this can become a good resource for new and experienced mappers to help decide a theme for their project.

    I'll lend my thoughts to some of the themes but in the end this is primarily going to be a bunch of pictures to help wrap your head around the theme in question. In addition to providing pictures I'll also mention a few maps that use the theme well, if there is one.

    Lastly I would like to mention that this is not the end all be all of theme lists. If I've missed anything or you feel there's something that needs to be changed please send me a message, I'll be more than happy to consider any improvements. If you want to see a map added as an example for a theme I'll consider the suggestion, based on how well I think the map does as an example.

    Before We Begin
    This section will be brief but I feel it's important to take special note of a few ideas. I speak specifically of the time frame Team Fortress 2 takes place in and how team facades work within the games universe. While there's no official date I would ballpark the timeframe to fall between 1965 and 1975, with more credit to it being after 1969. Now I won't go into detail about team facade here but I invite you to take a look at Grazr's article on base facades. If that doesn't satiate you I would also recommend his article on Immersion and Your Map. (If you have time I truthfully recommend all of his articles that, though dated, are still immensely useful.)

    Major Themes
    Major themes include the bulk of your maps detailing, generally speaking. These themes do not blend well when mixed together unless a lot of forethought is put into how you plan to blend them. (With a few exceptions, like mountain forest). I think one would be hard pressed to combine a forest that transitions straight into desert.

    Farm
    To start us off is the front running theme used in one of TF2's most played maps, 2fort. Granary also makes use of this theme well. For most players farm theme is, ironically, a really clean theme and one that is easy to play in. Most farm maps I've personally played are set in the day, where team colors are easily contrasted against the landscape.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/IT85aCv.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/ZsraLqY.jpg

    Badlands
    No not the map specifically. A badlands is a real type of geographical location with stunning bright rocks and interesting formations. Badlands are similar to desert in a lot ways, but aren't explicitly so. In game the map Badlands is as you would imagine a good place to study this theme. The map Offblast also loosely fits this theme.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/zWvgAWA.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/0tAzcM9.jpg

    Mountain
    Mountains can have a large range of interesting features about them, with forest or jungle dotting about it. In this way it's a flexible theme that can largely stand on its own but performs best when paired with a solid sub-theme. Mountain Lab works with wrapping the level around and inside the mountain.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/gj1XGs7.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/k7wRF7o.jpg

    Forest
    While this may be bias speaking there are a hell of a lot forest maps already. This isn't a bad thing, just something to consider. One could say it's an easy theme on the eyes and one that draws a lot of mappers to it for use in their project. Landfall makes excellent use of this theme.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/CFzHwBN.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/4xM8FIy.jpg

    Jungle
    Borneo is a superb example of this theme. A more recent map, Overgrown, also uses this theme well. Generally speaking maps utilizing this theme appear humid and warm; as well as very green.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/x0jvYli.jpg

    Tropical
    Similar to jungle in some ways, tropical focuses more on coastlines and bright vibrant colors. The map Meridian comes to mind but not much else, it's not a highly utilized theme.

    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/VVZgDdD.jpg

    Urban
    I honestly don't have much to say about this theme. Skyscrapers are generally the name of the game with the occasional planted tree. The map Urban Brook executes this theme well, though it's been criticized for using the Mann Co. signs in a non-neutral way. Mannhattan employs some urban in the skybox.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/gpNlKLO.jpg

    Maritime
    For a theme pack click here.
    Maritime centers around the coastline architecture of a lot of seaside towns. Lighthouses, cobblestone and boats are the cornerstones of this theme. Sunshine is a map relatively popular in competitive TF2 that utilizes this theme.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/vtbbOg0.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/nPi5vQH.jpg

    Desert
    Egypt and Badlands are the first maps to come to my mind when I think desert. Generally speaking the color pallette for Deserts range from yellow to orange with various dead shades of brown here and there. Introducing team color to structures is important in this theme. takabuschik made a great post about the various types of desert you'll see already in game and in real life. Further along he elaborates on "strange deserts".

    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/2ue5t0S.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/CHrgHEa.jpg
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Sonoran_Desert_33.081359_n112.431507.JPG
    https://photosbyravi.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/california-desert.jpg

    Hydro
    Studying Hydro, Powerhouse, or Biomass will give you pointers as to how the whole hydroelectric dam in the middle of a desert would work. I considered this different enough that it should get its own section.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f7/Glen_Canyon_Dam_and_Bridge.JPG
    http://il2.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/1157050/thumb/1.jpg?i10c=img.resize(height:160)
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c3/Sioux_Falls_Hydro_Plant_1.jpg

    Swamp
    For the rest of the theme pack not included in the game click here.
    Particularly difficult to use for some mappers, especially when looking to introduce height variation in a realistic way. I'm not terribly privy to any specific map that really gets this theme right but I have seen it executed well. Tyler recommends checking out the map Moonshine for reference.

    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/wjOHSdd.jpg

    Japan
    For a theme pack click here.
    While Suijin and Shiro are the only two examples that come to my mind they are fantastic examples for using this theme correctly. A thought occurred to me while writing this section that Japan could be both urban or medieval, depending on the time period. Neon lights to fill the streets of urban Japan and paper lanterns for medieval Japan.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/8HtE3rU.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/qaPR3gL.jpg

    Medieval
    Medieval has that interesting twist where it's both a theme and a gamemode. While one assuredly compliments the other that does not mean Medieval is off the table for a conventional maps theme. Degroot Keep is the only official medieval map.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/OJah43A.jpg

    Space
    Space is a relatively new theme I suppose, in the context of TF2. A beta Valve map Asteroid comes with some interesting textures and assets. It's hard for me to really describe this theme as it can quite literally be anything from space. A different planet, an asteroid base, a starship cruiser. The limits up to you. Also there's some pretty amazing skyboxes for this theme if you know where to look.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/BoLMnLU.jpg

    Sub-Themes
    Sub-themes are usually chosen to add more to a main theme and to support your maps detailing in small or sometimes large ways. This can range from spytech hidden away behind slightly ajar doors to the weather being more than just a sunny day.

    Industrial
    Industrial could be considered one of the most flexible of the sub themes. Being comprised of many large simple shapes it's also one of the easiest to create quickly. Most maps can leverage an industrial angle without much effort. Wherever RED and BLU go there's almost always room for a train, right? For examples, love it or hate it, Well executes industrial well around the middle of the map, though I would take its layout with a grain of salt.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/wU1Gzlc.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/lk56FRx.jpg

    Spytech
    Spytech is in the same boat as industrial when it comes to flexibility. While I may not have a solid number I'd wager over half the maps in TF2 have some form of spytech hidden away in the corners of the map. Degroot does, if you know where to look. Nucleus could be considered to have Spytech as a main theme. It's been said that Valve took inspiration from old James Bond films and IBM computers from the 70s for a lot of their spytech design.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Construction
    For a theme pack click here.
    Construction gives a feeling that people were recently there working towards finishing some structure, until the fighting broke out. I think construction fits as a sub-theme as it isn't very strong standing on its own. Vanguard and Backlot are maps that uses a lot of assets from the pack theme pack.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/mOL3vxQ.jpg

    Mines
    Similar to caves but with the addition of man made objects all through the mine. Cart tracks, lanterns, barrels, boxes, dynamite, you name it. Unless the mines dry you might also consider scattering a resource throughout it. Dustbowl and Goldrush make extensive use of this theme. The custom map Zinkenite took this theme and used a real material but with special fictional properties (I don't believe real Zinkenite glows). it's a very flexible theme when you put your mind to it.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/2JUWkkB.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/qmz6GcA.jpg

    Caves
    While largely similar to mining, caves tend to have less apparent encroachment from people. A lot of what you would find in a cave would be stalagmites and stalactites, or perhaps even crystals, largely undisturbed. Coming back to Zinkenite one could say it's a combination of both caves and mining.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/PRYeB4v.jpg

    Snow
    A certain frozen member in the community loves to make snow maps, a lot of people love snow maps. It's snow, what's not to love. A community map made official, Coldfront, is a good choice if you're looking to study heavy snow themes. It's a relatively flexible sub-theme, though you wouldn't normally see snow in a desert. I suppose I should note that if done in combination with night you have to be extra cautious with how you light the level. Just something to keep in mind.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/6fpFmad.jpg

    Rainstorm
    The official map Sawmill is probably the first map to come to mind for most people. It does for me. Thunder and lightning can accompany a rainstorm though it's not required. A rainstorm doesn't always have to take place at night either.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Night
    Look to the maps Doublecross, Nightfall or Sawmill and take note of the fact that despite being set in the night are all still very well lit maps. This helps with team color identification and it matters to the players, even if they aren't aware of it themselves.

    [​IMG]

    Abandoned
    Structural decay is the biggest sign that an area was once occupied but has since been abandoned. This can seem eery but creates an interesting tone throughout the map. Just about any structure heavy theme can have this sub-theme added to it.

    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/DGD7tOH.jpg

    Ruins
    The maps Antiquity, Angkor, Egypt, and Lakeside come to mind when I imagine ruins in TF2. All of those maps employ some form of ruins as an addition to the overall aesthetic. Generally ruins are from long gone civilizations or settlements. The buildings merely husks of what once was.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://i.imgur.com/XxnqrOd.jpg

    Autumn
    Harvest is a prime example for this sub theme alongside Maple Ridge. Warm colors with various oranges and yellows make team recognition rather easy while playing. Overall this is a flexible theme that can be applied in conjunction with many building styles and landscapes.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://miriadna.com/desctopwalls/images/max/European-autumn.jpg
    http://7-themes.com/data_images/out/58/6969840-country-road-autumn.jpg

    Halloween
    Essentially autumn but with the holiday attached. Mann Manor and Harvest Event are both great examples. From what I've seen pretty much all halloween maps are set at night.

    [​IMG]

    Additional References:
    http://forum.r2games.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=109555&d=1414172296
    http://orig02.deviantart.net/bad7/f/2007/052/1/2/jewish_graveyard_ii_by_frederikm.jpg

    Looking for even more resources?
    Head on over to this thread and take a look, architectural references are always handy.

    TODO: Western
     
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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2015
  2. tyler

    aa tyler snail prince, master of a ruined tower

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    Good starter guide for newbies. For spytech I'd say you can look at old James Bond films; I think that was a heavy inspiration for Valve. I'd also say Egypt and Lakeside also fall under ruins more than desert. Mangy's ctf_atrophy combines the egypt and swamp themes pretty well, too.

    Mountain Lab uses a majority of the swamp assets without being a swamp (that's why Valve bought the pack). There's also Blackwood Valley by zpqrei and I always liked Moonshine also. Unfortunately I don't remember the names of all the other cool swamp maps I've played.
     
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  3. MoonFox

    MoonFox L10: Glamorous Member

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    that reminds me of a map I tried making a while back... a industrial themed map... in the middle of the ocean. it was CTF_rig. I really had issues designing it as it took forever to load the water textures
     
  4. Crash

    aa Crash func_nerd

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    Good guide! I like the real world examples, but I think squeezing in a few in game examples in addition would be really useful.

    Also, I second the old James Bond style for spytech examples. Lots of cool stuff in there. The movie Dr Strangelove has some cool interiors, as well. Coldfront's first spawn rooms are heavily referencing it.
     
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  5. spudboy

    spudboy L1: Registered

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    This is a pretty sweet list to think about, especially since I'm fairly new to mapping. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. One question, what theme(s?) would you say apply to mvm_rottenburg? It's always stood out to me as noticeably different from most of the other maps, along with koth_king.
     
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  6. henke37

    aa henke37

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    I'd say that's medieval themed. Or at least old european.
     
  7. Bunbun

    aa Bunbun Gay sex slave

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    Heres some spytech related photos i found that you could use
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    EDIT: nevermind
     
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  8. Vincent

    aa Vincent 🔨 Grandmaster Lizard Wizard Jedi 🔨

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    Thanks, I'll add that to my "Todo" list, I also realized I had forgotten Halloween and Autumn.

    I've updated the resource with the following;
    Cleaned up wording
    Added Table of Contents
    Cleaned up the images and added some from in game examples
    Added some unlinked images for additional reference (and to lighten the page load)
    Added links to some of the maps I've referenced

    I'll still be making adjustments to this for a while, every time I look at it I feel I have more I could add.
     
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  9. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    This is a great reference, but I'm not sure that it's how I'd break down tf2 theming. For me, theme/subthemes doesn't seem to hold up in practice- it's more like Natural Theme, Building Theme, Environmental Theme. So hydro is pink desert-concrete industrial-sun, whereas badlands is yellow desert - wood and concrete industrial - sun and thunder mountain is alpine - wood industrial/farm - thunderstorm.

    I think that's a better way to work on tf2 themes - where is your map? What are the buildings? What is the skybox and weather?
     
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  10. Zed

    aa Zed Certified Most Crunk™

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    If you're looking for a good example of the construction theme, you should check out Fubar's map, Vanguard.
     
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  11. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

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    People often seem to forget Rottenburg when talking about medieval-themed maps.

    Also I'd say Kong King (and maybe Mannhattan) are better executions of the urban theme (especially because we're not even getting any pictures of Urban Brook).
     
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  12. takabuschik

    aa takabuschik

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    I want to add some information I think is quite important:
    There are 4 types of "desert" in the game.
    [​IMG]
    The "white", or regular desert, featured in mvm_coaltown, pl_upward, and a few other maps. (cp_keikoku also features that theme). This theme represents the deserts of California, mostly. They often feature a mine in them.
    I think that dustbowl and doomsday can also be included here.
    [​IMG]
    The badlands desert, which you already mentioned.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The "red" desert, featured in maps like hydro, cactus canyon, and mvm_decoy (which I think is the best example for this). The red desert utilizes cacti as vegetation, much more than other themes. It represents the real life Arizona and Colorado areas, the Sonora desert, etc.

    The strange desert, as I like to call it, featured in pl_hightower and G-pit. This is a very strange type of desert, that I honestly doubt that it exists in real life. Not much more to say about it, I don't think there's a single custom map featuring this theme.

    rd_asteroid and the space theme, seem to be massively inspired from 2001- a space odyssey (the film).
    [​IMG]
    While the pacific pack is dead, there are quite a few maps using that theme, like Bakscratch's koth_stallone (Bakscratch if you're reading this please release the assets!!!). I still think it's worth a mention, maybe merge this with your "tropical" theme. Contrary to the popular belief, a bunch of assets were released for this theme, like the pacific palm trees.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
  13. Moonfixer

    Moonfixer L5: Dapper Member

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    arena_yunshu, ctf_neofort, mvm_maandarian, and ctf_shuangcheng are also great examples of the urban theme in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
  14. radarhead

    aa radarhead Hands out ratings like cheap cigars

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    Can you elaborate on "strange desert"? I don't see much similarity between Gpit and Hightower. Hightower always seemed to be more of a red desert, while Gravelpit is some odd gravel wasteland.
     
  15. iiboharz

    aa iiboharz Meme Queen

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    Rottenburg isn't exactly medieval themed, it just recycles its assets.
     
  16. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

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    Well it's an old-timey village. Close enough :p
     
  17. takabuschik

    aa takabuschik

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    Yeah sure.
    By "strange" I mean, something I never saw in real life, or in pictures.
    Deserts can be divided according to their geology. One type is based of sedimentary rocks (I hope that's how you say it in english...)- mostly Limestone rock (once again, I hope I am using the right word). This type is what I called "white desert", since white or very light brown, is the color of the Limestone rock. Geologically, the badlands desert is made of sedimentary rock as well (and also of Sandstone (once again- IDK if that's the right word in english)) Here's a link for further explanation
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badlands#Formation
    The difference between "white desert" and "badlands" is the erosion the rocks have gone through, witch created those amazing formation in the badlands.
    The other type of desert I mentioned, is "red desert". The red color may come from two different types of rock- Granite, and sandstone. That's completely normal as well, and exists in many places around earth.
    Now, as for the "strange desert", it just makes NO sense.
    [​IMG]
    plr_hightower cliff, looks normal when you play in-game. But when you look at the picture, you see that the dirt on the left side, and the dirt on the right side, look very different. One is brown, one is green. Green color can come from a specific mineral in Granite, that has copper in it, but that's not the case, because the rocks don't have that mineral in them (the rocks are brown).
    [​IMG]
    To the left of the cactus next to were RED cart started, there are squares of dirt, that looks like someone was trying to start some agriculture in them, or something, IDK. It just makes no sense to me.
    [​IMG]
    This is G-pit. This picture looks like someone took a picture of a desert, and then opened it in photoshop, and changed the hue/saturation settings to something unrealistic. Also, whenever I play G-pit, I feel like it's about to rain. That's entirely possible, since it rains in the desert, but the whole looks of it just look unrealistic.

    If anyone knows on what Valve has based these two maps, or can find some real images of a desert that looks like hightower or like G-pit, I would love to see those
     
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  18. Tuaam

    Tuaam L6: Sharp Member

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    I'd say for themes like spytech you should look at pictures of old "bases". James Bond works, but it must be appropriate to TF2, there are pictures of 70's computer rooms, stuff like the sort works. I feel like space should take cues from a few Retro space themes, like the Alien films, which all utilize (Except Colonial Marines) a 70's - 80's retro space feel.


    Example - If you see pictures of computer rooms / Mainframes from the 60's, you see one thing in common. Big, round screens, and a box - like, beige design. This may not be common in contemporary 2000's PC's, but these beasts dominated the age before Personal Computing. Using what is relevant to the time period is always essential to choosing the map style.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015
  19. Vincent

    aa Vincent 🔨 Grandmaster Lizard Wizard Jedi 🔨

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    Updated the resource today to include Autumn and Halloween, I also updated a few of the other themes and cleaned up some formatting. Let me know what you think.

    If you'd like to see more example maps linked feel free to send me some suggestions.

    Changes (August 28th, 2015)
    ==============
    added Autumn
    added Halloween
    updated Urban
    updated Desert
    updated Hydro
    updated construction
    cleaned up some formatting
    added a few more linked image examples here and there
    Still todo: Western

    Also could an admin or staff change the threads title to: " [Resource] TF2 Theme Inspiration " - thanks in advance.
     
  20. Woozlez

    Woozlez L3: Member

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